Revill Villanueva is a visual artist whose work investigates the ancestral and cultural aesthetics of his heritage as a Filipino descendant in search of belonging and identity. He examines the consequences of post colonialism in the Philippines and within the Filipino diaspora, which are impacted by the colonial practices and principles of Spain and the United States.
His artwork delves into the themes of labor exportation, immigration, generational trauma, and search for identity; therefore, his art practice is mostly inspired by his experience and the stories of second-generation Filipino youths in Toronto in search of belonging and a sense of community. Revill uses science fiction, futuristic aesthetics, and traditional Filipino semiotics to reimagine the Filipino community in the distant future and convey personal narratives as an immigrant living in Canada and a diaspora artist.
Villanueva’s interest in art began at an early age, and at the age of 9 he participated in editorial cartooning and poster making competitions. He also pursued performance, particularly acting and singing, which led him to the Theatre program at York University. Overtime, he continued to pursue art and explore a variety of mediums, such as oil painting on canvas, sculpture, and photography, and immerse himself in the Toronto art community.
In 2019, during a trip to the AGO on his birthday, he got a calling that would change his academic and career path. A distant friend called him to wish him a happy birthday and their words made Villanueva consider a transfer from Theatre to Visual Arts to pursue his true passion. In addition to following his passion for art, Revill hopes to be the representation for Filipino artists and break stereotypes within the Filipino community.
In the summer of 2022, he participated in the “X Marks the Spot” exhibition at FilipiNext, a conference about Filipinx Studies emerging from Canadian contexts. This is one of the many opportunities which he has participated in guided and facilitated by the faculty at AMPD at York. His professors noticed his work, enthusiasm, and commitment which led to additional opportunities to be immersed among the art community. To highlight how York University has contributed to his journey as an artist, Revill has featured the University in his work; such as a futuristic version of the York University Subway Station in Perlas de Pilipinas (2023).
Following graduation, in June of 2023, Villanueva plans to return to the Philippines to relive his past, immerse himself with the culture, reunite with childhood family and conduct research on aesthetics of the Philippines, particularly in the Visayas region of the Philippines where he is from. Following his journey at York, he recognizes how open minded he has become and how his academic experience has strengthened his critical thinking skills. Therefore, going back to the Philippines will provide him with a whole new experience through a newfound lens.
Through his research on Filipino aesthetics, he hopes to generate space for Filipino visual culture through his art. He is actively listening to the struggles of the Filipino community, particularly with their experiences in immigration, family separation, generational trauma, and impostor syndrome, and uses the gallery spaces in York as a pedagogy and to shed light on our history and culture in the Philippines and for Filipinos. Representation matters at York as it inspires those who have historically been on the margin in Canadian society to be seen and heard through research and creativity.
Revill Villanueva (BFA’ 23) is an artist of Filipino descent who graduated from York University in the spring of 2023 with a BFA Specialized Honours in Visual Arts. Inspired by the experiences of stories from second-generation Filipino youth in Toronto, his artwork delves into the themes of labor exportation, immigration, generational trauma, and search for identity. He uses science fiction, futuristic aesthetics, and traditional Filipino semiotics to reimagine the Filipino community in the distant future and convey personal narratives as an immigrant living in Canada and a diaspora artist.